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Pakistan on Obama's India visit

Last updated on: November 4, 2010 22:36 IST

Does Obama's India visit worry Pakistan?

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Pakistan on Thursday said it was not worried about United States President Barack Obama's assertion that he sees India as the cornerstone of US's future engagement with Asia, and insisted that its ties with Washington should not be seen through the prism of US-India relations.

Obama's remarks in an interview with PTI ahead of his visit to India dominated the weekly briefing at the Pakistan foreign office, with spokesperson Abdul Basit seeking to downplay the comments.

Barack Obama Asked to comment on Obama's remark that he sees India as a cornerstone of America's engagement in Asia, Basit said, "We just concluded the third round of the Pakistan-US strategic dialogue and that made it very clear that the US is interested in having a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan. We are not very worried about Obamas comment."

Basit insisted that Pakistan's relations with the US should not be seen through "the prism of US-India relations."

"Pakistan's relations are independent of what is happening between US and India," he added.

Text: PTI

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Image: US President Barack Obama speaks to PM Dr Singh in Washington, DC

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Pakistan mum on Obama's stay at the Taj

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Replying to another question on Obama's remark that Pakistan has a "special responsibility" to act "transparently, fully and urgently" to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to justice, Basit contended that Islamabad was "sparing no effort" in this regard.

Basit refused to interpret why Obama would stay in the Taj Hotel, one of the targets in the Mumbai attacks, during the inaugural leg of his visit. He noted that the Kashmir issue is a "major concern" for Pakistan, which is hoping that Obama's visit would help in contributing to efforts to resolve the long-standing dispute.

In response to several other questions on Obama's visit to India beginning on November 6, Basit said Pakistan was hopeful that stronger relations between New Delhi and Washington would foster peace and stability in South Asia.

"If India is a strategic partner of the US, we feel that their relations could be helpful in promoting peace and stability in South Asia. We are confident that President Obama is conscious of that and his visit to India would help to promote peace and stability in South Asia."


Image: The US has been pressing Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks to task
Photographs: Reuters/Arko Datta
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Pakistan hopes for fair treatment from international community

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Asked about India's aspiration to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Basit said he had no comment to make because the matter was between India and the 45-member grouping.

"But we strongly believe that there should be a level playing field for all countries and Pakistan has been insisting on getting the same treatment from the international community on civil nuclear cooperation as has been made available to India," he said.

Image: Obama with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari
Photographs: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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'India has never shown serious commitment to settle the Kashmir dispute'

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A question on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's recent remarks about a political solution to the Kashmir issue elicited a stinging response from Basit. At the All India Congress Committee meeting in New Delhi earlier this week, Sonia had said that a meaningful political dialogue with all shades and regions of Jammu and Kashmir was needed.

Basit said, "Such conciliatory but vague statements are not unexpected given that President Obama is visiting India on November 6. The people of Pakistan and Kashmiris are familiar with such gimmicks that least impress them."

"The irony is that India has never shown serious commitment to settle the Kashmir dispute. In fact, its stance and statements on Kashmir are loaded with contradictions," he added.

Image: At a recent AICC meet, Sonia Gandhi emphasised on the need of a meaningful dialogue with Kashmir
Photographs: Reuters/B Mathur
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Pak welcomes 'special US envoy for Kashmir'

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According to Basit, India's actual objective has always been to put the Kashmir dispute on the backburner and let the world forget about it. But this will never happen. "Kashmiris have rendered great sacrifices in their legitimate struggle and they will never settle for anything less than exercising their right to self-determination," he added.

It was a matter of "serious concern" that India "continues to ride roughshod over the United Nations charter and universal declaration of human rights."

In response to another question, Basit said it was for the US to decide on appointing a special envoy for the Kashmir issue. "This proposal had been considered in the past. So we would welcome it if this happens," he said

Image: Separatists in Kashmir want Obama to intervene in problems faced by them
Photographs: Reuters/Danish Ismail
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